Are Republicans actively working with Barack Obama’s senior compaign strategist David Axelrod to lose the votes of many women voters? To be sure, the GOP will always have its die-hard followers, and people of both sexes who will sincerely see things via it’s prism. But two tidbits today are not going to enhance the image of some GOPers and their party.
For instance, Foster Freiss, the big-buxer business man bankrolling a portion of Rick Santorum‘s campaign efforts, had a suggestion on a cheap form of contraception that truly stunned Andrea Mitchell — and will not enhance Santorum’s image unless he issues a statement saying the choice of words was unfortunate. Watch it yourself:
And then there was the truly stunning House Oversight Committee chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) that looked at Obama’s new regulation requiring employers and insurers to give contraception coverage to their employee. You wonder if it had been scripted by David Alexrod for two reasons:
The optics of both of these bits of video are terrible for the GOP. In a general election if Santorum is the nominee the Dems can do a commercial with his quote. Or hand out bottles of aspirin marked REPUBLICAN CONTRACEPTION at political rallies.
But the REAL killer will the the hearing. At a time when Republicans in Congress seem to rank perhaps a bit lower than bedbugs in popularity, this will add to the image of a biased, rigid, tightly controlled, ideologically intoleratent Republican Congress – accurate enough.
And you have to ask: why would it have been such a big deal to allow a women who agreed with Obama to testify? If Issa believes in the strength of his arguments, he lends LEGITIMACY to the other witnesses if he allows a variety of viewpoints. No sign yet that he will allow anyone except those who don’t already agree with him to testify — on a day when his rigidity seemed to mesh with the aspirin joke.
My prediction: Issa will need aspirin since the video of this meeting will produce a big, fat political headache.
A FEW OTHER REACTIONS:
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa is at it again, holding yet another inane hearing. This was the scene in his committee room this morning…Yes, his first panel of witnesses was solely comprised of male religious leaders whose consciences are inflamed by the new rule on women’s health services that include contraception coverage. Unsurprisingly, Democrats were enraged and demanded at least one witness to balance this skewed panel…
Apparently, after the media caught wind of the melee, Issa added a couple of women bringing the total witness list to eleven. One assumes he found women who agree a handful of aging Catholic men, sworn to lifelong celibacy, should dictate government policy on contraceptives for the entire female population of the USA.
Two female Democrats walked out of a House oversight committee hearing on the contraceptive coverage rule Thursday morning, accusing Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) of manipulating committee rules to block female witnesses from testifying.
“What I want to know is, where are the women?” asked Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) before walking out. “I look at this panel [of witnesses], and I don’t see one single individual representing the tens of millions of women across the country who want and need insurance coverage for basic preventive health care services, including family planning.”
he five witnesses on the first panel were all male religious leaders or professors, including a Catholic bishop. Two women were listed on the committee website as witnesses for a second, later panel, also dominated by conservatives. The first panel, however, tends to draw the most attention at hearings.
Democrats withdrew the name of a witness Issa had accepted, Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, because they wanted a woman to testify. Lynn submitted a written statement instead.
Maloney pressed Issa to allow Sandra Fluke, a law student from Georgetown University, to testify about the impact of the new requirement that most health plans offer contraceptive coverage with no co-pay. Issa shot back that Fluke was rejected because she was “not found to be appropriate or qualified” to testify about religious liberty. He said liberty, not contraception, was the topic of the hearing.
Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-N.Y.), the only female Republican lawmaker at the hearing, agreed with Issa.
“I really find it so objectionable that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle would characterize this as something so narrow as being about contraception,” she said. “This is a fundamental assault on one’s conscience.”
Does the fact that Santorum’s chief financial backer is apparently a Grade A moron matter? Probably not.
Friess isn’t running for president, he’s just backing Santorum with a lot of money. Not only do we typically not hold candidates responsible for every damn fool thing their benefactors say but, frankly, we especially tend to discount damn fool things uttered by 71-year-old multimillionaires. Especially ones from Wyoming.
It may serve to reinforce the notion held by many–myself for example–that Santorum is a religious extremist who shouldn’t be given the power to issue orders to our federal bureaucracy. But people who feel that way–myself for example–aren’t going to vote for Santorum, anyway.
Additionally, the name Foster Friess and evoked Mickey Kaus’ old Feiler Faster thesis, which is relevant beyond the shared alliteration. Around this time in the 2000 presidential cycle, Kaus observed, “The news cycle is much faster these days, thanks to 24-hour cable, the Web, a metastasized pundit caste constantly searching for new angles, etc. As a result, politics is able to move much faster, too, as our democracy learns to process more information in a shorter period and to process it comfortably at this faster pace.” If anything, that’s more true now than it was twelve years ago. Twitter and Facebook hadn’t even been invented yet.
Conservative humor rears its ugly head once again.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.